Coronavirus facts

Last update: 20 May 2020 2:57pm

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause illness in humans and others cause illness in animals, such as bats, camels, and civets. Human coronaviruses generally cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve to infect and spread among humans, causing severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in 2002, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which emerged in 2012.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of coronavirus that is causing disease in humans and spreading from person-to-person. The name of the disease is COVID-19.

What we know about COVID-19?

The current COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. We are still learning about how this new virus spreads and the disease it causes. We know:

  • the virus causes respiratory disease that can spread from person to person
  • most people experience mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath
  • some people experience severe illness and, sadly, a small proportion die
  • older people and people with underlying medical conditions seem to be more at risk of severe illness
  • there is no treatment for COVID-19, but medical care can treat most of the symptoms – antibiotics do not work on viruses
  • a vaccine is currently not available.

How does it spread?

The virus most likely spreads through:

  • close contact with an infectious person
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s uncovered cough or sneeze (if you are within 1.5 metres or two large steps of an infected person)
  • touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs, sink taps and tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick very quickly.

People with coronavirus may experience:

  • fever
  • symptoms such as coughing, a sore throat and fatigue
  • shortness of breath

People with severe illness may have difficulty breathing, which is a sign of pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show after a person has been infected.

For more information go to Testing for COVID-19.

Who is most at risk?

The following people are at higher risk of serious illness:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older, with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people 65 years and older, with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people 70 years and older
  • people with a weakened immune system.

Chronic medical conditions include diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, cancer and kidney failure.

To minimise your risk, it is important to follow advice about preventing the spread, cleaning and physical distancing.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

Around the world, no medication has been found to safely and effectively treat COVID-19. Antibiotics do not work on viruses.

In Australia, no drugs have been approved for treating COVID-19.

There is a huge amount of global effort going in to finding a safe treatment as quickly as possible.

Some medicines are being investigated through clinical trials, to see how well they work and if they are safe. There are 90 countries, including Australia, working together with World Health Organization to find an effective treatment for COVID-19.

While there is no proven treatment for COVID-19, medical care can treat most of the symptoms.

Many people who get COVID-19 have relatively mild symptoms. Most recover over a week or two at home without treatment.

Why is it taking so long to make a vaccine?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.

Existing vaccines do not protect against the virus that causes COVID-19.

The World Health Organization is coordinating global effort to create a vaccine against COVID-19. Researchers are working as hard as they can on this.

It takes time to develop a vaccine from scratch. First it needs to be created, then researchers need to check it is safe to use. If it is safe, it needs to be manufactured and distributed on a large scale.

While we wait for a vaccine to be readily available, it’s important we all follow the rules to slow the spread of COVID-19. Stay home as much as possible, wash your hands well and often, and always cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.

Why not test people without symptoms?

Testing people for COVID-19 is important to stop the spread of the disease in the community. Testing identifies people who have the disease and quarantining reduces the risk of those people mixing with other people and passing it on.

Tasmania’s approach to testing people for COVID-19 is similar to other States and Territories and is based on information from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. The Committee is made up of Chief Health Officers from all Australian States and Territories and is the main national expert committee for advice about COVID-19 in Australia.

The focus of testing in Australia is to test people who have cold or flu like symptoms (however mild) – rather than testing people who don’t have any symptoms of illness.

The main reason for this is because people who have cold or flu like symptoms are more likely to have COVID-19 than people without symptoms. People with symptoms are also more likely to pass the illness on to other people than those who don’t have any symptoms – meaning that it is more important to identify those who have the illness and are showing symptoms because they are more likely to make others sick.

However there are times when it is important to test some people who don’t have symptoms. This includes workers in places where there are people who could be badly affected if they caught COVID-19. This includes health care workers and aged care workers. Sometimes people who don’t have symptoms are tested if there is a high chance they might develop COVID-19, such as some close contacts of confirmed cases and where there is an outbreak.

Apart from these type of situations however, the advice from Australia’s Chief Health Officers at this stage in Australia, with the current low level of transmission in the community, that it is more effective to continue to focus on testing of people with symptoms.

Last update: 07 Jun 2020 9:41am

As at 6pm, 6 June 2020

Cases in TasmaniaNumber
New cases in past 24 hours0
Total cases226
Active**2
Recovered211
Deaths13

* includes 2 hospital inpatients (0 in ICU)

Laboratory testsNumber
Laboratory tests completed in the past 24 hours454
Total laboratory tests36,123

Cases overview by Local Government Areas (LGA)

As at 6pm, 26 May 2020

*Figures do not include 3 interstate cases

LGA Region - SouthCases
Brighton2
Clarence5
Derwent Valley4
Glenorchy3
Hobart11
Huon Valley6
Kingborough12
Sorell1
Tasman1
TOTAL45

LGA Region - NorthCases
George Town1
Launceston21
Meander Valley2
Northern Midlands3
West Tamar2
TOTAL28

LGA Region - North-WestCases
Burnie64
Central Coast35
Circular Head7
Devonport12
Kentish2
Latrobe4
Waratah/Wynyard23
West Coast2
TOTAL149

Last update: 05 Jun 2020 3:11pm

King, Flinders and Furneaux Group Islands

Updated 5 June 2020

The restriction on mainland Tasmanian residents visiting King Island, Flinders Island and other islands in the Furneaux Group will be lifted at 3pm Friday June 5.

This means that Tasmanian residents from anywhere in Tasmania, including island residents, can visit the islands for any reason and are not required to quarantine for a 14 day period on their arrival.

Island residents are also able to fly from the islands to mainland Tasmania and return without a requirement to quarantine on their return.

Residents of the islands or Tasmanian residents who return to or visit the island via mainland Australia (or have been on mainland Australia and not completed 14 days quarantine on return to Tasmania) will still be required to quarantine for 14 days at their residence. See Coming to Tasmania for more information.

Interstate visitors to the island will be required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival at a government managed facility (unless they have essential traveller status).

School students

Updated 5 June 2020

From Tuesday, 9 June 2020 school resumes in the classroom for Government School students years 7 to 10. Students attending Catholic and Independent Schools should check what arrangements are in place for their schools.

Students should not be sent to school or childcare if they feel unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms including:

  1. fever
  2. runny nose
  3. cough, sore/itchy throat or
  4. shortness of breath

These students should remain at home and you should phone your GP or the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for a referral to be tested for COVID-19.

Once school-based learning resumes, you may still choose to keep your child at home to learn if you are concerned about COVID-19. However, parents who make this choice will be responsible for supporting their child’s learning through their own resources. The Department of Education Learning at Home webpage provides some ideas and activities which may assist in this instance. Please let your school know if you plan to keep your child at home to learn. It is expected that all students who are well will return to learn at school by the end of Term 2.

If your child has health concerns and is vulnerable to COVID-19, your child will still be supported by your school to learn from  home once school-based learning resumes. For more information, talk to your school about what support they can provide.

As school in the classroom resumes, all parents, carers and students should be aware and follow additional measures put in place at schools to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.

Stage Two easing of restrictions - new dates announced

Updated 2 June 2020

The lifting of Stage 2 restrictions (due to come into effect on June 15) has now been brought forward to come into effect from 3pm Friday June 5.

The decision by the State Government was made after consultation with Public Health.

People should still ensure they use physical distancing (1.5m away from others when possible when out), wash their hands regularly, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if unwell and get tested for COVID-19 if experiencing any cold or flu symptoms. Vulnerable people are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to help protect their health.

Restrictions around numbers that can gather are still in place but have increased. Businesses and workplaces that are reopening will be required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that complies with minimum COVID-19 safety standards. A grace period will be provided for businesses re-opening but all businesses should ensure they have measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to staff and customers when operating.

Visitors to households is increasing to 10 people at any one time, in addition to residents of the household.

Legal Directions to determine the detail of the changed restrictions are currently being drafted in line with Public Health advice. Some restrictions will be updated over coming days. Please check this website regularly and businesses should also keep up-to-date through industry groups and Business Tasmania.

Full details at Roadmap to Recovery.

Testing locations for COVID-19

Updated 5 June 2020

Additional mobile testing sites are available across Tasmania. Some sites do not require bookings and offer drive-up testing.

DatesLocationBookingsNotes
Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics
Ongoing      
  • Hobart
  • Launceston
  • Devonport
  • Burnie
Booking required - call Public Health Hotline: 1800 671 738

On premises testing

Best option for high-risk people including:

  • healthcare, aged care and residential care workers or staff with direct patient contact
  • people who travelled outside Tasmania or had close contact with a confirmed case within 14 days of developing symptoms
  • people in quarantine (day 10-12).
Mobile testing clinics
6 - 7 June
10am - 3:30pm
Rokeby, Police Academy (151 South Arm Road)No booking requiredDrive-up testing
6 - 7 June
10am - 3:30pm
New Norfolk, Boyer Oval (Third Avenue)No booking requiredDrive-up testing
9 - 11 June 10am - 3:30pmRavenswood, Zions Hill Church (7-21 Warring Street)No booking requiredDrive-up testing
9 - 11 June 10am - 3:30pmBridgewater, Cowle Road (next door to the fire station)No booking requiredDrive-up testing

It is recommended that if you have any of the following symptoms, get tested for COVID-19:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • sore/itchy throat, or
  • shortness of breath.

If you become very unwell or have difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Read more about Testing for COVID-19.

Mersey Emergency Department

Published 1 June 2020

The Mersey Community Hospital Emergency Department is now open daily between 8am and 10pm.

Patients who need emergency care outside these hours will be redirected to other hospitals, including the North West Regional Hospital and Launceston General Hospital.

Ambulance Tasmania will continue to transport people in need of emergency hospitalisation to the hospital that is best able to provide the service that patient needs.

Visiting public hospital patients

Published 30 May 2020

As of Monday 1 June 2020, new measures will be in place to enable restricted visits to patients in public hospitals.

Visiting hours will be restricted to 2pm-6pm daily.

Visitors will be limited to a maximum of one per patient at any one time. However exceptions are in place for some hospital wards. See Public hospital patient visitation for more information.

All visitors will be required to complete a visitor screening tool prior to entering the hospital.

People should not visit if they have:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Been advised to self isolate following international or interstate travel or COVID-19 testing.

Intending visitors to private hospitals should contact the hospital directly to find out their policy in relation to visitors.

Cashless bus fares and fare amnesty extended

Published 26 May 2020

The temporary arrangements for cashless buses and the bus fare amnesty have been extended for all public school bus and general access services until Sunday 5 July 2020.

See Public transport for more information.

Aged care facility visits

Published 24 May 2020

As of Monday 25 May 2020, residents at aged care facilities can now have one visit a day, by up to two visitors, for no longer than two hours.

Visits should continue to be either in the resident’s room, outdoors or a designated area in the facility – they should not be in common areas.

Read more about the visit restrictions, including the requirement to have an influenza vaccination if visiting an aged care facility.

School students

Published 22 May 2020

From Monday, 25 May 2020 school resumes in the classroom for Government Primary School students (Kindergarten to Grade 6) and Year 11 and 12 students at Government extension high schools and Colleges. Students attending Catholic and Independent Schools should check what arrangements are in place for their school.

All other students (Years 7-10) should continue to learn from home – unless they are unable to be appropriately supervised or supported to learn from home. At this stage, these Grades will return to classroom learning from Tuesday, 9 June 2020.

Students should not be sent to school or childcare if they feel unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms including:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • cough, sore/itchy throat or
  • shortness of breath

These students should remain at home and you should phone your GP or the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for a referral to be tested for COVID-19.

Once school-based learning resumes, you may still choose to keep your child at home to learn. However, parents who make this choice will be responsible for supporting their child’s learning through their own resources. The Department of Education Learning at Home webpage provides some ideas and activities which may assist in this instance. Please let your school know if you plan to keep your child at home to learn.

If your child has health concerns and is vulnerable to COVID-19, your child will still be supported by your school to learn from home once school-based learning resumes. For more information, talk to your school about what support they can provide.

As school in the classroom resumes, all parents, carers and students should be aware and follow additional measures put in place at schools to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 North West Regional Hospital Outbreak Interim Report

Published 30 April 2020

The preliminary report by Public Health Services (PHS) on the outbreak of COVID-19 associated with healthcare facilities in the Northwest Region of Tasmania has been released.

The report summarises the public health data obtained from confirmed cases associated with the outbreak and discusses these in the context of lessons learned that could inform the response to future COVID-19 and other outbreaks in Tasmanian healthcare facilities.

The report is available on the Department of Health website.

Legislative Council Elections to be deferred

Published 5 April 2020

The Tasmanian 2020 Legislative Council Elections for the divisions of Huon and Rosevears will be deferred in a further measure to protect Tasmanians against the spread of coronavirus.

The Constitution Act 1934 provides that the poll must be held on a Saturday in the month of May. Currently they are to be held on Saturday, 30 May.

A Notice will be issued under section 13(1) of the COVID-19 Disease Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, for the election to now occur before the next sitting of the Legislative Council, slated for 25 August 2020.

Should public health circumstances require a further deferral of the election, then a further Notice would need to be considered.

Last update: 29 May 2020 10:18am

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Find a range of Stay Healthy Stay Connected resources

Last update: 14 May 2020 8:43pm

The Department of Health is working closely with national health authorities and local health services, including hospitals and GPs, to prepare for more cases and identify and appropriately manage potential cases quickly. We are being guided by the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus, national guidelines that are being reviewed daily, and extensive pandemic planning undertaken over recent years.

Public Health Emergency Declaration

The Director of Public Health has declared a Public Health Emergency for Tasmania to help manage the threat of COVID-19.

This declaration provides the Director with emergency powers to implement public health measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Tasmania.

You can read the Directions made under the Public Health Act 1997 on the Resources page.

State of Emergency Declaration

The Tasmanian Government has declared a State of Emergency for Tasmania in response to COVID-19.

The State Control Centre has been activated, meaning the whole-of-government response to COVID-19 is being led by the State Controller – Commissioner of Police, Darren Hine – in close liaison with the Director of Public Health, Mark Veitch.

You can read the Directions made under the Emergency Management Act on the Resources page.

Premier's Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council

The Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC) has been established to provide advice to the Government on strategies and initiatives to support the short to medium, and the longer term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

PESRAC will provide advice and recommendations on how to best mitigate the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. It will also identify opportunities for economic and social renewal.

PESRAC is made up of individuals from across the business and community sectors with experience, knowledge and the necessary resourcefulness to advise the Premier on a roadmap for recovery and the social and economic opportunities and initiatives to rebuild a stronger and more resilient Tasmania.

For more information, go to the PESRAC website.

Last update: 28 Apr 2020 10:41am

General information

About coronavirus and the national response

For the latest information about coronavirus go to the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Translated resources

The Australian Government COVID-19 translated resources cover health, employment, education and general community information.

The SBS Coronavirus multi-lingual portal has content in 63 languages.

About the Tasmanian situation

You can follow the Department of Health on Facebook for updates.

About the global situation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) website provides up-to-date advice and facts about the situation globally.

Health information

National Coronavirus Helpline

For general information about coronavirus, or if you are experiencing symptoms, call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 (24 hours, 7 days) for advice on what to do next. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

healthdirect website and app

Information and advice provided by the National Coronavirus Helpline is also available on the healthdirect website and via the healthdirect mobile app.

Tasmanian Public Health Hotline

The Public Health Hotline ensures Tasmanians have access to coronavirus (COVID-19) support and information.

As well as handling enquiries from the general public, qualified clinical staff are available to provide advice to health professionals.

If you feel unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (including fever, runny nose, cough, sore/itchy throat or shortness of breath), please phone the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to arrange a referral for a COVID-19 test.

Stay Healthy Stay Connected

For tips on how to stay healthy and stay connected while you are staying at home, visit and follow the Stay Healthy Stay Connected Facebook page.

Stay informed

Download the Federal Government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join the WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.